Fledgling alternative to IFoA set up: The Actuaries Guild

The Actuaries Guild, a competitor group to the IFoA, set up yesterday, see Guild.
See https://www.reddit.com/r/Actuary_news/comments/xmp09l/the_actuaries_guild_a_competitor_group_to_the/ for some background.

This is intended to act either as a catalyst for improvement at the current UK monopoly (Institute and Faculty of Actuaries) or to grow into a fairer and far cheaper alternative.

In theory it could also act as a potential alternative to other actuarial organisations too, although obviously not for those actuaries who by law currently need a particular credential and membership to practise. In the UK, the IFoA has said in court that only a small minority of its members need to be members to actually practise, which I have described as a bit of a Ratner moment (see https://www.reddit.com/r/Actuary_news/comments/x53lpk/is_this_a_bit_of_a_ratner_moment_for_the/).

Does the actuaries guild offer a credential that signifies any particular level of knowledge? What does it give someone who joins it? Seminars? Meetings?

In the US, there are a few competing actuarial organizations. The most competition is in the arena of pension actuaries, probably because they have very specific legal requirements to practice, and those requirements aren’t very well aligned with the requirements to join the society of actuaries. So there are professional bodies of actuaries who are qualified pension actuaries and want continuing ed and networking options outside the SoA.

It only started yesterday so it is currently at the planning stage, discussing what it should offer, how it should be set up/organised.

From a discussion on there:

“My thinking on qualified actuaries what can offer:
More peer training
Relevant current research and ideas
Potential conference that actually has workshop session to learn at
Forum to ask questions around dangerous topics “whistleblowing” and the other elements
Should it progress to a point of mass then it could be a regulator of its members but obviously member decision is the key there
One big thing is for actuaries to tell us what they want and how it should be done better”

For students:
"My idea is full curriculum reform with specialism inbuilt from the start.

Exams that make sense to life: say for example a case study exam where an entire reserving program needs to be carried out from data to report. And give it 24 hours to produce something

An actual voice in how their body runs, no classes of membership just members working together for the better."

Did you actually create a new organization or did you just set up a private place to talk about potentially creating a new organization?

I’m not sure I really follow the logic. The IFoA admit in court that actuaries don’t legally need to be a member of the IFoA to practice as a capital “A” Actuary, so the solution is to set up another society (exclusive guild) that they similarly won’t need membership to?

I guess it could be valuable if employers don’t think the IFoA is doing a good job in filtering the most qualified people to work as actuaries.

I’m not sure I believe the IFoA in what they said, which seemed designed to make the judge feel that expelling a member/excluding a former member was no big deal.

Until they said that many employers still seemed to expect actuaries to be a members of the IFoA (or a similar organisation). It is not yet clear whether that has changed now that the IFoA has said it.

The point is that there is some significant dissatisfaction with the IFoA. Trying to get it to improve by asking it has not worked, so this is (as described in the aims of the group) to act either as a catalyst for improvement or as an alternative to the IFoA.

If actuaries are perfectly happy to work outside any kind of professional organisation fine, they can do that. For those who want a group (e.g. to provide peer review, research, collaboration) then the Guild is a start. (The first one since the merger of the Institute and Faculty in 2010).

Arguably both. How do you think the original guilds started? Probably by people getting together and agreeing to talk.
At this point, only time has been spent and no money.

As I said in the original post on reddit (which was in response to someone else saying that a group should be set up to talk), this may or may not get anywhere. The point is to actually make a start.
The actuarial world may have changed significantly since the IFoA’s statement to the Court that most of its members don’t need to be … members…

I will likely regret continuing this conversation because your style is very reminiscent of someone else that was extremely difficult to have an actual conversation with but …

What? How can you respond both to an either/or question? You either did create a new organization or you did not create a new organization. It can’t be both.

I have no idea what you posted on reddit. I haven’t read it and I don’t intend to wade through a different conversation on a different discussion board to have a discussion on this discussion board.

I know how the competing organizations formed in the US. A group of people were dissatisfied with the service being provided in specific areas by the existing organizations so new groups were formed with specific goals to meet the specifically outlined needs that were not being met.

So far I can’t tell if a new organization has been created or not. If you actually want to be successful, the first step should be to outline the problem and identify appropriate solutions. That doesn’t appear to be what has actually happened, it seems like you have the cart (creating a new actuarial organization) before the horse (identify specific problems and solutions).

How is it up to the IFoA whether an Actuary requires membership to legally practice as a capital “A” Actuary? Surely it would be up to the insurance regulators?

For example certain states in the US require a credentialed actuary to sign P&C rate filings, and they define that credential as associateship in the CAS or a member of the AAA, IIRC. The CAS has no power to define what is legally required to submit a rate filing, sign off on reserves, etc.

And does it even matter whether it’s legally required? At least in the US, most actuarial jobs don’t legally require any credential, but in practice, employers trust the credential and require it.

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This is the thing. The new organization would have to provide some type of value that IFOA is not in order to thrive. Better exams, better seminars… something. Something that employers value. There has to be a reason for people to join.

There is dissatisfaction with the SOA on this side of the pond, but no one has successfully come up with an alternative so we plod along.

You are correct that the insurance regulators (regarding insurance) and the UK government (regarding pension plans) are responsible for creating any legislation that requires an actuary performing a specific named role to be a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (or equivalent).
However, the IFoA has influence in that it lobbies for changes and has close links with regulators such as the Bank of England, the Financial Reporting Council and the Financial Conduct Authority,

Fewer than 10% of IFoA Fellows seem to be in such a role, and is known that a significant (but so far undisclosed) percentage of Fellows leave the IFoA before retirement. So interesting questions are:

  • in the light of the IFoA’s statement (that most actuaries don’t need to be members to practise as an actuary), will the number of Fellows leaving the IFoA before retirement increase?
  • will dissatisfaction with the IFoA cause some of those to join a rival organisation (such as the Guild) or will most of them carry on doing what such actuaries (Fellows leaving the IFoA before retirement) have done so far, namely practise (or move to other work) without being a member of any actuarial organisation?

I absolutely agree that any new organisation has to offer something of value relative to the IFoA. For students, in due course this could be cheaper and fairer tuition and exams (the IFoA does not seem to be well liked by students). For qualified actuaries, initially this could be mutual support for peer review (where that is required by employers), perhaps also providing professional indemnity insurance via a mutual (NB the IFoA provides NO such insurance), collaborating to do research without having to suffer overbearing IFoA administration.
Key advantages of NOT being an IFoA member are:

  • not having to pay very high “dues” (ÂŁ715 per year for Fellows)
  • not being subject to their Big Brother disciplinary and CPD approach
    I suspect that following the IFoA’s statement, many Fellows will be having conversations with their employers, and several of those will take their lead from the IFoA’s statement and decide to continue working but without rejoining the IFoA.

Time will tell how many of those will decide that they still need to be part of some organisation that is not the IFoA. If so, it makes sense to me that they should look to join a streamlined organisation like the Guild rather than say the SoA or CAS, which would be similar to rejoining the IFoA in too many ways.

Re “employers trust the credential and require it”, I can see that for many roles employers would prefer someone who reached Fellowship over someone who hadn’t. A key question is the degree to which employers prefer Fellows who remain members of the IFoA over those who left the IFoA some time after qualification.

Do employers really have a strong preference for:

  • Fellow with 10+ years post qualification experience who is still a member of the IFoA
  • Fellow with 10+ years post qualification who has left the IFoA?
    I suspect the degree of preference may have weakened significantly after the IFoA’s statement.

I’d be interested to know what people think employers’ preferences would be in the US for the same question regarding FSA, FCAS fellows?

I am not aware of any practicing actuaries that have dropped FSA or FCAS in the US. Of course some drop it when they retire, and others sometimes drop it when they move into a non-actuarial role. I know multiple in both categories, but none that dropped the credential but still practice.

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I suspect that many actuaries in the US would be ambivalent to or at least not very well-versed about all but the most egregious mistakes made by the SOA and CAS.

This attitude and inertia would result in many, if not most, employers defaulting to being biased in favor of hiring actuaries with recognized (CAS/SOA, perhaps FIOA/CIA, and whatever the fleet of pension organizations are).

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Sure, so all of this about something equivalent to the CPA saying “well technically you don’t have to be a CPA to work as an accountant”? That doesn’t seem to be as much of a zinger as you are suggesting. As others have described a legal requirement is just one of a host of reasons why the actuarial societies exist.

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I’m of half a mind to having those letters inscribed on my tombstone!

I don’t know about the US, but there is nothing to stop an actuary here in the UK keeping their FIA (Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries) or FFA (Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries), or whatever letters people who qualified after the merger use (FIFoA?) provided they put their years of membership. E.g. I use FIA (Nov 1989 to Sep 2020).
That is factually accurate, shows that the individual obtained the qualification, but is no longer a member of the organisation.

One of my job requirements is to maintain my FCAS and remain in good standing with the CAS. That’s not a legal requirement, it’s just a requirement of my employer.